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JR refused on Council CCTV policy for Taxis Published Date: 24/05/2023

In 2017, South Cambridgeshire District Council’s (SCDC) Licensing Committee approved a draft policy for consultation that required all licensed hackney carriage and private hire vehicles to be fitted with CCTV.  In November 2019 following significant trade consultation it was agreed by Committee that CCTV would need to be installed by no later than November 2020.  The deadline was subsequently extended to March 2021.

As a result of the pandemic, the progression of CCTV paused, and in October 2022, the Licensing Committee considered police crime data (against the driver and passenger) and agreed to support the trade by deferring the CCTV policy implementation until  1 April 2023. An exemption for executive hire plate exemptions was agreed.  

A meeting between Cambridge Taxi Drivers Association and the Chair of the Licensing Committee took place in March 2023, where the trade suggested that the policy was irrational and should be delayed until September 2023 (to follow a decision made by Cambridge City Council).  SCDC were satisfied that the policy was proportionate and met the pressing need test, and therefore refused to consider a review of the Policy.

The trade lodged an application for permission to apply for Judicial Review against the policy and refusal to delay implementation until September 2023. SCDC instructed Philip Kolvin KC.

Sir Ross Cranston sitting as a High Court judge ordered that the application for permission to apply for judicial review is refused, and the claim for costs of £4,242.00 were to be paid.

The Judge commented that:

“there is a fatal flaw to the application in that the policy was adopted on 21 October 2022 so that the application to this court on 30 March 2023 is well out of time. The claimant cannot avoid that by contending that it is challenging the Council's refusal on 24 March 2023 to reverse and/or review its previous decisions. In that letter the Council stated that it did not deem it necessary to delay the policy any longer. The fact is that the policy was adopted some 5 months previously, when under the rules judicial review claims must be filed promptly, and within 3 months at the latest.

“The claimant contends that the policy is irrational, disproportionate and unfair

  • (i) when the number of incidents in private hire vehicles is miniscule;
  • (ii) given the cost and lack of choice members have in who will install it;
  • (iii) whereas other private hire drivers working in the district need not have it;
  • (iv) since it is an unjustified invasion of the privacy of the driver, the driver's family and passengers;
  • (v) because of the data protection issues.
  • (vi) As well it is said that the date of implementation is irrational and unfair in light of (i) the late provision of specifications;
  • (vii) the limited number of providers; and
  • (viii) Cambridge City Council having put the start date for its scheme back to 1 September 2023.

 “None of these contentions surmount the high threshold for irrationality in public law. The Council has a considerable discretion in exercising its statutory function of granting licences for private hire vehicles. As of July 2020, it had to have regard in its relevant policy to the Government's Statutory Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Standards which states that CCTV can provide a safer environment for passengers and drivers.

“As explained in the Council's Summary Grounds, the Council considered the arguments behind the policy, the policy details, and relevant statistical material bearing on the policy (see Licensing Committee report, 5 October 2022, and especially Appendix A, statistical analysis). It was up to the Council to weigh this and other considerations in the adoption of the policy. What Cambridge City Council is doing provides no basis for concluding that the Council is acting perversely when it is adopting a different start date. The data protection issues are not particularised. Out of area vehicles have a right to drive in the Council's district, but that is no basis for the claim of perversity.”